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Youth Orchestra Tuning-Up for Sunday Chatsworth 'Pops' Concert

A free performing arts academy is set to introduce itself to the community at St. Stephen Presbyterian Church in Chatsworth.

Emily Patterson of Chatsworth grew up in a family of musicians. Her grandfather loved jazz and her father is a professional.

So when it became evident to her that she wanted to be a musician also, she chose to learn the saxophone in tribute to her grandfather.

“I was young when he died, and I decided to play the sax to stay connected to him,” said Emily, 15, and a freshman at Van Nuys High School Performing Arts Magnet. “I love music. Music is a huge part of my life. I can’t draw, I can’t paint and I can’t sing, but someone once said instruments were invented for those who can’t sing.”

And at 5 p.m., Sunday, Emily will be seated in woodwind section of the Young Master Performing Arts Academy orchestra for students 18-years-old and younger when they introduce themselves at a free “pops” concert to be held at in Chatsworth.

Emily’s father, Jeff Patterson, knew he had to establish the non-profit academy when he saw first-hand what was happening to the arts in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Forty-five percent of all LAUSD music teachers were given “pink slips,” leaving 39 elementary music teachers in the entire LAUSD for the 2011-2012 academic school year.

Patterson said there is only one music teacher at and Chatsworth High School and both teachers received “pink slips.” He also said currently, no public-school music teachers were hired for next year in Chatsworth at the elementary school, middle school, or high school level.

“This is an effort to bring a performing arts experience to youngsters who may not be able to afford music lessons and for those who attend school where the arts have been eliminated due to budget cuts and/or a lack of money,” said Patterson, a
Chatsworth resident and business owner. “The Academy is open to all students.
It offers free music lessons. St. Stephen is a separate entity. St. Stephen is generously giving use of their facility. We intend to grow a performing arts academy on campus for all of the arts such as dance, theater and drama.”

The Academy will primarily focus on music the first year by creating a beginning instrument program for strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion; a beginning and advanced performing concert band; and a children and a young adult choir.

One hundred percent of the funding will be raised through donations to pay teacher salaries.

In addition to donating space on their campus, St. Stephen will be accepting tax-deductible donations through their non-profit corporation, until such time as a separate non-religious affiliated non-profit corporation can be established.

Clif Cartland, the director of community services and one of two pastors at St. Stephen, said Patterson had spoken with him about his dream to create an academy for young people.

“(The board members) said what about doing that at the church. We have the facility, we believe we are the heart for the community, and I think we have become identified in the community as a church for its service to community,” Cartland said. “Last year, we did the West Valley Family Festival and felt we had a broad enough acceptance in the community, so people could feel comfortable (and) have a safe place to come. We feel providing kids with an opportunity to learn music, to learn the performing arts are important. Every individual, from children to seniors, needs that type of enrichment, and it seems Jeff’s vision is a very good match for ours.”

Christina Sansone, 15, of Chatsworth, is one of the new academy members and thrilled about the opportunity to play her trombone, especially with her brother by her side.

“It means a lot to me. I’m in volleyball, which is the same semester as the marching band, so I can’t do both. So, I come here on Sunday afternoons after church, and I can continue with my music,” said Christina, a freshman at .

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